GONE WITH THE WIND during World War II
As the story begins, Ann Hilton (Claudette Colbert) has just sent her beloved husband, Tim, off to war. We never see Tim, just his photos. Ann and teenaged daughters, Jane (Jennifer Jones) and Brig (Shirley Temple) miss Tim very much, although the bulldog, Soda, steals the show. Enter Ann's ex-boyfriend, Tony (Joseph Cotten), who has remained a family friend and makes no secret of the fact that he still carries a torch for Ann. But now Jane, 17, is in love with Tony too. Tony is a roguish sort, kind of like Rhett Butler --- and Hattie McDaniel as the family maid reinforces the impression that this is GONE WITH THE WIND, set during World War II rather than the Civil War. Although I do recommend SINCE YOU WENT AWAY, it just misses the epic mark for three reasons. 1. It should have been in color. The winter scenes, the blazing sunsets, the wounded in the hospital -- all have their counterparts in GONE WITH THE WIND, and they are just not as powerful in black and white. 2. Since Tim is never seen, and Tony steps in to fill his shoes almost immediately (though apparently platonically), and the chemistry between Tony and Ann is so palpable, I found myself wishing Tim would die in battle and let everyone else live happily ever after --- and this is surely NOT the message Selznick wanted to convey. 3. At the end, Jane still seems to harbor more-than-daughterly feelings for Tony, who still makes it clear he prefers Ann...which leaves the film with an unfinished feeling and the uncomfortable suspicion that Tim is about to return home to a real mess. Realistic, perhaps, and maybe an opening for a sequel...but if the message is that women should remain loyal & independent while waiting for their husband/father to return from war, having charming Tony still playing substitute somewhat undermines that message.